Summary: Big Idea: The child of God may be shaken but remains safe in God’s unshakable kingdom.
SHAKEN, BUT SAFE IN GOD’S UNSHAKABLE KINGDOM
SHAKEN, BUT SAFE IN GOD’S UNSHAKABLE KINGDOM
Big Idea: The child of God may be shaken but remains safe in God’s unshakable kingdom.
Introduction: Are you being shaken these days? If so, take comfort, you are one among many, if not all, people in this city who have experienced shaking. Thousands of people are fleeing our city. Some do to protect themselves from the dreaded and deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). I have not visited the airport but was told that it looks like a huge hospital, with most people wearing mask. And who would not with daily reports of more people catching the virus. Our schools have been closed indefinitely. Whole residential blocks and all the residents are forcibly quarantined? Even hospitals have been closed. Doctors, nurses, hospital workers are some of the most affected people. It must be one time in the lives of these modern-day heroes that they feel the burden of their calling.
How should Followers live these days? Some present a brave face saying, they’re not all affected, Jesus is with them. Someone told me that just as “the angel of death” spared every family from the plague when it saw the blood applied on the doorpost of the house” so she believes that because of Jesus she and the whole family where she works will not be affected also.
I must confess that a reading of the Old Testament suggest such truth. The righteous will not be shaken. Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion which cannot be moved. God’s people will pass through the fire, yes, but they will not be burned. They will pass through deep rivers but will not be drowned. These and many more promises in the Old Testament suggest that God’s people will not be affected by calamities, by sufferings of any kind.
But I must warn you today that this is a misunderstanding of the Old Testament scriptures. This is reading something that was not meant to by the writers. It is claiming something that God never promised. When Christians declare sincerely that they are free from any disease, or problem, or suffering because they are God’s people, they have move beyond the guarantees that Scriptures make of God’s people.
Let me explain. When the psalmist wrote that those who trust in the Lord will not be moved or shaken, he is using the term “shaken” to refer to God’s judgment. He will not be shaken in the sense that whatever happens, he is on God’s side. He will not be a recipient of God’s judgment. Only the unrighteous are judged by God. Only sinners are shaken by God’s judgment. This does not mean however that God’s people do not experience the terrible effects of war, or famine, or plagues, etc. It means that whatever happens they are part of God’s covenant people.
The New Testament writers support this view. The church, God’s people are no longer exempted from sufferings. They could expect sufferings and trials. Calamities and ensuing sufferings are to be suffered, but now with a different attitude. No longer are sufferings to be seen as “judgments” intended for the unrighteous. Sufferings are now seen as God’s favorite refining agent.
So how should we respond to our current dilemma? Hebrews 12:25-29 reveals several truths that should help us to respond biblically. The author tells us that God himself will shake the whole earth, which includes God’s people. The author states in verse 26 that God will not shake only the earth, but also the heavens. Most scholars agree that the unusual phrasing is meant to show that the end-time shaking will include not only the world in general but even those who have already entered God’s kingdom “heavens.” Peter alludes to this judgment in 1 Peter 4:17: “For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us, what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God?” The same truth is alluded to by Jesus himself in Matthew 24. He warned of worsening persecution and deception aimed against believers. He warns them from turning away. They are remain steadfast to the end if they expect to be saved.
Secondly, we find in our text that this divine shaking is purposive: “the removing of what can be shaken – that is, created things – so that what cannot be shaken may remain.” God’s purpose could be described as discriminating. Divine shaking separates the shakable from the unshakable. When God shakes the world, people will know what things will last, what will not. The author uses the term “removing” which means to change or transfer something to another place. Shakable things will be removed and replaced by the unshakable.